I really appreciate today's column. So much so, in fact, I wish I had written it myself. Actually it was written by Kay Yerkovich, co-author with her husband, Milan, of the book "How We Love." I think you'll enjoy these insights into how many of us do marriage.
Would you like a month-long, all-expenses paid vacation to Europe? It's an attractive offer; free airfare, a five-star hotel, exquisite dining and shopping with an unlimited expense account. Sounds fabulous, but there is one catch. What if I told you there was a 50 percent chance your plane would crash? Would you risk it? With those odds, you would probably say, "No, thanks," yet we enter into marriage with the same excitement about the journey, never considering we face the same risk: half of us who marry will crash and burn, leaving us in the dust of divorce.
Flying on a jet is actually a lot safer than getting married. Planes are regularly checked by mechanics who diagnose and fix problems as they arise. We try to fix our marriages without ever taking a look at how they work. Milan and Kay Yerkovich's book, "How We Love," is a revolutionary approach to improving your marriage. This book gives you the insight and tools to become an expert in diagnosing and fixing the problems in your marriage or any other important relationship in your life.
Do you really know your spouse and how they "work?" The Yerkovichs believe you don't know them all that well unless you have become a student of their childhood, because that's where love lessons begin. Most of us have about 18 years of love lessons from the homes we grew up in, but we have never stopped to ask, "What exactly did I learn and how is that impacting my marriage now?"
The authors of "How We Love" explain, "Our experiences growing up, good and bad, create beliefs and expectations about relationships that we carry into adulthood. We leave our families with a 'love style' that governs how we relate as adults. The book identifies one positive love style, the secure connector, and five problematic love styles: the Avoider, the Pleaser the Vacillator, the Controller and the Victim. Many of the root problems in our marriages are a result of these broken love styles. See if one of these describes someone you know.
Avoiders often come from performance-based homes that encourage independence and discourage the expression of feelings or needs. Kids respond to insufficient comfort and nurturing by restricting their feelings and learning to take care of themselves. So, as adults they are self sufficient and avoid emotions and neediness. The spouses of avoiders have similar complaints. They say, "I don't get much affection and my spouse doesn't seem to need me. I can't get close."
Did you have an overly protective or critical parent? Did you try hard to "be good" in order to avoid criticism or to keep the fearful parent from getting anxious and worried? If so, you are probably a pleaser. As kids, pleasers don't get comfort: rather, they end up giving comfort to the parent. As adults, pleasers continue to monitor the moods of others and give to keep everyone happy. Over time they become resentful because don't know how to receive. The spouses of pleasers say, "My mate is too clingy and always wants me to be in a good mood."
The vacillator had a parent who connected but in a sporadic and unpredictable way. These kids get enough connection to make them desire more, but they end up waiting and wondering when their parent might show them some attention again. By the time their parent is in the mood to give again, vacillators are tired of waiting and too angry to receive. As adults, vacillators are on a quest to find gratifying, consistent connection they missed as kids. They idealize new relationships, but as soon as real life sets in and they have to wait for their spouse to be available, vacillators become angry and critical. People married to vacillators say, "I feel like I'm walking on egg shells and getting a mixed message. Come here, go away. I can't make my spouse happy."
Controllers and Victims
Some people grew up in chaotic homes where they experienced a dangerous or neglectful parent. Their parents didn't relieve stress, rather they were the source of stress. More compliant kids are fearful and submissive and learn early on to become victims. More feisty kids fight back and learn the lesson: control, or be controlled. As adults, they become controllers. Often controllers and victims marry since these are the only roles they know.
After readers determine their love style, they are ready to understand what happens when different love styles collide. For example, what happens when an Avoider marries a Vacillator? The authors describe six of the most common combinations they see in their work as marriage counselors. Readers will be surprised to find their love style so clearly explained and even more amazed when they see their marriage dynamic described. With a clear diagnosis change is possible. The book, "How We Love," has a corresponding workbook that helps pinpoint exact growth goals, so couples can enjoy a more harmonious and intimate relationship. This book offers clear help will help you learn how to be a great marriage mechanic.
I've got a strong hunch that you recognize yourself and your mate in one of these destructive interaction patterns. Hopefully, you have some interest in learning about the positive style of the secure connector. One way to learn more is to read their book How We Love. Another way is to visit their web site howelove.com. One final way is to tune in tomorrow at 6 p.m. when Milan and Kay will be my guests on TWOgether as ONE. The program airs each Monday on KLJH 107.1FM.